Have you ever seen someone spin plates on those poles or whatever they are? Like, they have a pole in each hand and it's spinning a plate on top, and then they manage to throw one up on their chin and spin that one while grabbing another for the empty hand?
A little something like this?
Well I feel like this guy, all the time (hopefully I don't look like that guy, although, wow). My mother in law always asks me how many plates am I spinning this week, and I always laugh but inside I'm thinking "Oh, thousands!" Now, I'm not complaining AT ALL--I love being busy and I really enjoy doing all of the activities that I am involved with. I was reading a friend's blog yesterday and she was saying that she feels so busy and overwhelmed all the time and doesn't know how people are able to work, have a fulfilling relationship with their husbands (or whathaveyou), clean house, blog, have friends, etc. I totally feel her on this and I am definitely no expert, but I thought I would share a few tips that have helped me stay organized and stave off the crazy that lives inside of me!
Calendar(s)!! This may be pretty DUH and perhaps goes without saying, but I would be LOST without my calendar. I should say "calendars" because I have 2--a google calendar and a planner that I keep in my purse. On my google calendar I have all of my work appointments, court dates, etc (my secretary has direct access to it so she keeps it up to date for me), as well as personal events (hair cuts, dinner with friends, etc). The best part of using this type of calendar is that I can sync it up with my husband's work calendar and we can both have access to each other's calendars. That way, when a friend texts me and and invites us to do something, for example, I can pull up our calendar on my phone or computer and know right away whether we are free. Then I can just put the event in, and my husband's calendar is instantly updated. This saves a lot of back and forth messaging and simplifies my life in so many other ways!
As for my personal planner, just have a simple one from Office Max (although I'm jonesin' for either the latest EC planner or the adorable Lilly Pulitzer ones! I can't choose!). It has a month at a glance page so I can see the whole month at one time and then breaks down into weeks so I can write more detailed notes. I use this planner to schedule my runs, our meals, and my blog posts. Keeping an up to date and detailed calendar can keep you organized, but also can show you what free time you do actually have. If I see that "oh, we have an open Friday night", or something like that, I'll try to plug in a date night, cook out with friends we haven't seen in a while, or maybe a girls' night, depending on what we haven't done in a while. This helps me make sure that we are spending enough time with friends, family, and each other!
Love spending time with this guy!
I'm a creature of habit so I live by routines. If I can get myself into a routine, I can pretty much get anything done. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit, so you may have to work yourself into it. I had to start a routine for cleaning as well as for when I get home from work. I found that I was wasting so much time but now that I have a routine in place, I take care of business and then I'm free to do whatever! Here are some examples:
Getting home from work routine:
-Let dogs out
-while they are out, feed them, fill their water bowls, and feed the cats
-empty cat litter to outside trash can
-while I'm outside, get the mail (let Ruffles back in because she isn't good at being an outside dog)
-go through mail immediately (toss junk, put bills, etc in purse to be dealt with at work the next day)
-change clothes (running or pajamas!)
-turn on outside lights
-start dinner (or run, depending)
Ok so that was more boring than I thought, but you get the general idea. It sounds dumb but before I started doing these things every night in this same way (not necessarily in the same order, I'm not that crazy) I would wander around and realize all I had done was put on my pjs and fired up the DVR without feeding the dogs, starting dinner, etc. It only takes me about 10 minutes to do all of this, so it's not that big of a deal. Basically, I just keep this running list of tasks in my head and make sure they are completed before I start on anything new.
When exactly are you going to feed me?
I also started a housework/chore routine that looks something like this:
Thursday: Laundry (I've done this since college--can't change old habits)
I do have a laundry schedule of when I wash the comforter, dog beds, and other large items like that)
Every other Friday--house keeper day! Haha! Ok so perhaps I cheat but I think I'm able to get as much done as I do because I don't really have to clean the house that much. Yes, I vacuum and sweep here and there, I keep the kitchen clean, etc, but having someone come and do the heavy cleaning really changed my life! I hated not being able to have the whole house clean at the same time and inevitably we'd go to dinner or have an event so I'd miss my Tuesday bathroom scrubbing or whatever it was and then I'd be behind. Plus, spending my Saturday cleaning made me really grouchy! So, after MUCH discussion, we hired a fabulous lady that does an amazing job and keeps me sane. It's not very expensive at all, because she doesn't do my laundry, but to me, it's worth it. It just takes a load off of my shoulders, keeps me sane, and gives me a little extra time.
Sunday: Grocery Day--I make a meal plan each week (although I try to get a big picture made monthly) and buy what we need for the week. Having the meal plan keeps me from running to the store 5 times a week. I also try to cook double batches when I can so I can freeze the extra and have it to pull out on a busy day! Also, when I unpack the groceries, I clean out the fridge and cabinets. I toss things that have gone bad and reorganize everything once the new items have been added to the fold. This really doesn't take any time at all and keeps the fridge and pantry organized. I hate pulling out a box of cereal only to find that it is empty or stale, so doing this quick little clean out every week prevents that.
There are always things that interrupt the schedule, but just keep calm and carry on! (No, not my house--but a neighbor's house after a storm we had in March that knocked out the power for 4 days. Talk about jacking up a schedule)
Another slightly cray thing that I do is I try to fill gaps in time up with productive activities. Have 15 minutes before Farrah picks me up for book club? Let me unload the dishwasher. Forrest mowing the grass before we watch a movie? Let me watch Dance Moms so I can get my show on and not have him have to suffer through it with me later. Honestly squeezing things in is how I'm able to blog (usually at work--oops). You will be amazed at how many little things you are able to accomplish in those extra minutes of time that pop up here and there. I was able to make 4 jars of pepper sauce on Monday in the 30 minutes I had before a birthday dinner (post coming soon). May as well! Now granted, I'm not always running around doing things like this--I like tv as much as the next person and nothing thrills me like laying in bed for 4 hours on a Saturday morning doing literally nothing. You won't die if you don't unload the dishwasher during those extra minutes, of course. Little chucks of time are just something I'm mindful of and utilizing them is an easy way to get things done when there is a lot going on otherwise!
Finally, prioritize! Make sure that you are doing the MUST DO's first and then the things that you like best. (This is how I wound up with a housekeeper--cleaning was low priority because I hated it SO much). It's ok to say "no" when you are too busy or if you just need some "me" time. For me, it's always hard to say no but I've gotten pretty good at it. I don't want to devalue the time that I have be spreading myself too thin. Plus, no one wants to be worried about their schedule or cleaning or meal planning all the time, so you have to maintain a good balance.
Ok, you guys think I'm sufficiently nutty yet? I hope some of these tips are helpful. They work for me because this is how my brain operates. I would LOVE to hear your tips of staying organized! Please please please let me know what works for you! Leave me a comment and let me know how you roll!!